How do folks find time for reading? Retirees or those on vacation, who seem to be able to do whatever they please whenever they like, would be expected to disappear into a book at will. They may have one book going or a half dozen scattered around their lives. Why not?!
There also are others who work full time and more, have hobbies and kids, and do the same thing. We might call these people, readers. You’ve overheard them talking, perhaps.
- “Have you read The Girl on the Train? Talk about complex and captivating.”
- “I’ve just about finished Garrison’s Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Science. Checked it out of our library. WOW!”
- “Man, I’m so tired. I was up until 3am finishing the latest Robert Crais book. What an ending!”
This isn’t HAVE-to reading, of course. It’s GET-to reading. These are busy people who make time to read because they feel it enriches them like nothing else they might choose to do.
You’ve also heard, “I love to read, but darn it! I just can’t find the time.”
Wait. Really? No. Not really.
Everybody gets the same amount of time each day and typically, we get to decide how to spend it. For many (most?) of us, work tends to fill the time we have to do it. Not much to do can blossom into a full day’s labor. Too much to do can be accomplished magically in the same amount of time. It can be either an “okay” day or “GREAT” day. It’s our call.
Leisure or down time can certainly have that same plasticity. We can spend it expanding our horizons through the reading and reflecting upon rich texts that appeal to us or we can spend our time texting while driving in the passing lane.
As an educator, I wonder, “How might we lead children and young adults to become aware of the possibility that they can fritter away their lives living a mile wide and a millimeter deep or they can dedicate themselves to daily enrichment in what is personally most important to them. If life is to actually amount to what each of us might call something, isn’t it likely to include a regular dose of engagement with personally valued reading material?”
Formal education, which so often is equated with schooling, can actually set us up to travel in one of these two basic directions:
- Never purposefully learning anything again after graduation unless required by career or other life circumstances, or
- Launching us on the learning journeys of a lifetime, focused by our personal talents and deepest passions.
I would suggest that for the sake of advancing civilization, and broadly establishing a foundation for our students’ personal happiness, educators could productively spend more time ensuring that by the end of K-12 schooling, every young adult has discovered what Sir Ken Robinson calls their element, fully embracing their very own talents and discovering and pursuing their deepest passions. Then and only then might we individually and as a culture, actually be getting someplace wonderful. The best part, so much of this kind of discovery takes place between the pages of books and other written material.
 Robinson, Ken. 2013. Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life. Penguin. New York, NY.